To say that The Haunting of Bly Manor is the most-anticipated series of the fall would be the understatement of the century.
The original series, The Haunting of Hill House, was one of Netflix's biggest hits, delivering a pulse-pounding plot, terrifying scares, and excellent acting.
Unfortunately, the sequel struggles out of the gate from a convoluted plot that feels best-suited to a Lifetime movie.
Victoria Pedretti, the breakout star of the original series, is back to lead the cast of the new story.
Pedretti was electric as Nel on The Haunting of Hill House, and while her new character, Dani, is the polar opposite of Nel, there are some similarities.
It's obvious she has a disturbing past, and her new job at Bly Manor only accelerates the tremendous suffering that plagues her very existence.
Her new job as the Governess to two young children was supposed to be a turning point in her life, but it's difficult to care for her when she feels like a third-wheel in a story she has no business being a part of.
As a character, Dani is an enigma, and while peeling back the layers over the course of the season should make her arc worthwhile, it's evident the creative forces had no clear direction for Dani.
Characters are supposed to serve the story and keep viewers tuning in, but many things feel off with this sequel from the very first scene.
For one, there's a severe lack of horror. In essence, Bly Manor is a love story at heart, and the minimal horror elements thrown in could be aired on Daytime TV.
It's a strange direction, especially when horror fans were raving about The Haunting of Hill House upon its debut.
If you're expecting the same level of horror, then you are going to be very disappointed.
The fundamental issue with the show is that it's being marketed as a horror. Had it been labeled a thriller, it would have been easier to get on board with how toned down the scares are.
The plot is passable at best. Being a ghost story, some elements work, but for the most part, it feels too forced to take it all seriously.
The series is filled with heart, which is surprising to say when you consider that Bly Manor is being billed as a horror.
That will be the biggest issue for people tuning in expecting to be thrilled from start to finish.
For the most part, the acting is excellent, and Amelia Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth turn in fantastic performances as the two children plagued by ghosts in their home.
Dani feels an immediate connection to the two children, largely because of the events that happen in the mansion, but that's not to say there are no other characters who take the wheel of the story.
There are more returning favorites from the first season, but their roles are a bit of a mixed bag.
While it's nice to see the stars on the screen together again, some of the roles do feel miscast and would have worked better with other actors.
American Horror Story has excelled for years by utilizing the same actors for new and exciting roles, and in Ryan Murphy's world of horrors, the casting choices are mostly a hit.
Here, it feels like the producers wanted the actors on-screen together, but didn't consider whether it served the story. Instead, they are relying on fans digging the nostalgia of these actors working together again.
Henry Thomas and Oliver Jackson-Cohen get to play with characters who are opposites to what they played in the opening season, and that works well.
The series also has T'Nia Miller (Sex Education) and Rahul Kohli (iZombie) in supporting roles.
As a whole, The Haunting of Bly Manor fails to live up to the success of the Hill House, and most of the episodes are bursting at the seams with filler.
Had this been a 90-minute movie event without half of the boring sub-plots and with more scares, it would have been much easier to recommend.
Through nine episodes, the series does not reach its full potential and given the long wait for it, it's disappointing.
If you can forgive the lack of edge of your seat moments and the meandering plot, then you might come away from the series with a grin on your face.
Will you give Bly Manor a shot?
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The Haunting of Bly Manor launches globally on Netflix October 9.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.